Saturday, May 24, 2008

More viruses than an unpatched XP machine

We're still unsure if this incredibly smart, or just fascinatingly lazy: the Weezer Pork and Beans video attempts to go super-viral by packing in references to 24 other viral videos.

Valleywag lists all 24 memes being mined; we can't help being reminded of that health check Monty Burns had where he was told he had so many diseases, they were keeping him alive by canceling each other out.

Thank you, Hornby

We're being spared a new Phil Collins record at the moment because he's too busy building a model railway:

"I just got sidetracked with model railroads for the boys - or me, really.

"I'm building a model railroad in my basement. That seems to be an obsession. There really isn't any room for music at the moment.

"I'm sure when the railroad gets close to being finished and I go into my little studio, if something happens I'll keep going with it.

"I have one or two things finished and one or two things that are half baked, but nothing that's even close to being called an album yet."

It's hoped that, should the railway be finished, we might buy ourselves a couple more years by sending him a bucket of sticklebricks and a Shakermaker.

Slick Rick pardoned

Last year, you might recall that there was a risk of Slick Rick being forced to return to the UK, what with his attempted murder conviction, and five years in jail and so on. Good news for him today, though: New York governor David Paterson. Paterson has issued the pardon in recognition of his good works for charity and so on, and called for the immigration department to drop plans to deport him.

Gordon in the morning: Taking the biscuit

Why on earth would Gordon be running a photo of Claire Richards from Steps? Because she's put on a tiny bit of weight, and has given Gordon a chance to poke fun at someone for the way they look.

Yes, with a face like his.

He's also not very good at it:

She has admitted in the past that her weight does YoYo and I know how she feels – I love those little beauties with the green foil wrappers too.

The fairly obscure chocolate biscuit joke was actually the build to the punchline - which Gordon had set up earlier on with this piece of obtuse logic:
CLAIRE RICHARDS from STEPS used to sing 5, 6, 7, 8.

But I reckon she’s been singing 5-4-3-2-1, tucking into the old school lunchbox chocolate biccie favourite.

Now, we're as fond as the next man of obscure and defunct products, and would - given the slightest opportunity - churn out half a page on Banjos ("Banjo/banjo/Banjo is brand-new/light and crispy wafers and thick milk chocolate too") but we wouldn't have thought that the typical Sun reader would remember the old Manfred Mann-themed biscuit. Still, don't let that get in the way of an excuse for running a picture of a not-even-overweight person, eh?

Elsewhere, Gordon gets a little too excited about the new Coldplay album. Actually, way too excited:
[T]he innocuous sleeve with an obscure codename was in fact holding the biggest album of the year — possibly the decade.

After some fawning, and then some more fawning, Smart delivers his uber-fawning conclusion:
They set out to make a musical equivalent of a work of art — and succeeded. They’ve come a long way since singing about the colour yellow.

Steady on, Gordon. Keep something in reserve for the next Kasabian album.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A world where everywhere is New York

This has turned up on Wikileaks: a proposal to adopt American (i.e. punitive) standards on intellectual property throughout the globe. The site claims the idea is for the agreement to be formalised at the July meeting of the G8.

Amongst the proposals included is one that, effectively, would commit signatories to spending more public money on "fostering specialized expertise" in IP cases "within law enforcement structures" - because that, I'm sure, is where most people feel the UK government should be targeting its police and court resources.

Cheerfully, they're also proposing strengthening the criminal law, so as to make good use of this extra funding. The proposal is not merely that commercial exploitation of copyright material be treated as a crime, but also "significant willful infringements without motivation for financial gain". There's no definition of what "significant" would mean, of course.

Completely lacking from the discussion document, of course, is any suggestion of providing safeguards for the public, or ways in which copyright law should be shaped in order to encourage creativity. But then, this is about money, not art, after all.

Come again?

Let's hope that Thom Yorke didn't take advantage of Colin Greenwood's temporary deafness during the making of In Rainbows to, for example, sell the idea of the pay what you like pricing to him.

Greenwood's hearing problems were quiet acute, but got better:

"For a few months afterwards I'd be watching the telly and suddenly hear these high pitched whistling noises as more and more high frequencies came back."

He doesn't say his hearing is now sharper than ever, but we're going to hang around outside his house with one of those silent dog whistles.

[Serious bit: really, really - get some ear protection if you're going to be exposed to loud music, either in a studio or at a gig.]

Madonnadoption "like childbirth"

Madonna has taken to the stage at Cannes to remind us who's important in the adoption of David Banda: Her, and her feelings. Oh, it was a struggle for her:

"It was painful, and it was a big struggle, and I didn't understand it.

But in the end, I rationalized that when a woman has a child and goes through natural childbirth, she suffers an enormous amount," she said. "So I sort of went through my own kind of birthing pains with dealing with the press on my front doorstep accusing me of kidnapping or whatever you want to call it."

Did anyone accuse her of kidnapping? Perhaps in the wilder edge of the blogheap, but most criticism was surely fair: That the kid turned out not to be an orphan but a child with a family; that the usual residence rules were ignored; that Madonna turned out to have been underwriting course costs for a figure involved in the adoption process; that it appears that promises made to David's father about contact weren't honoured - and, apparently, that he was told Madonna was offering a good Christian upbringing rather than her being a major figure in a culty movement; that the rules on overseas adoption established by the Organisation of African Unity - and to which Malawi was a signatory - seemed to have been ignored; and the wider question of whether being taken into an environment where the press camped on the doorstep really is the best for a child. All important questions and ones which had implications much wider than the single case. Does Madonna really think these concerns should have been ignored? Why should she have been given special treatment?

Given the easy ride she actually got, if this was like the pain of childbirth, she'd had the epidural.

The trouble is, she doesn't seem to understand the reasons why adoption has to be a strict process:
Madonna said she was "happy to be the guinea pig" for Malawian adoptions.

"Hopefully, after we get through this adoption, it will be easier for people to adopt children," she said.

No, Madonna, let's hope not. Let's hope that after this, any celebrities looking for special treatment are given the same difficult, considered process as everyone else.

Eurovision: Won't someone think of the integrity?

As if the voting in Eurovision was a sacred bond of trust between humanity and the muses, there's now worries that text voting could skew the results, reports MediaGuardian:

The continued use of SMS voting across Europe is bound to raise fears about who wins the contest, which takes place in Serbia tomorrow night.

The BBC banned SMS voting from programmes following the spate of fake TV scandals, saying the technology was not accurate enough to guarantee that all text votes were counted in time.

Sources have confirmed that the BBC has raised the issue with the European Broadcasting Union, the body that runs the song contest.

Well, it'll give Terry Wogan something else to grumble about if he ever gets bored of moaning about block voting. Not, of course, that that's likely.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Chemical Romance fans to lay siege to the Mail

Following the pudgy reporting of one fan's suicide, My Chemical Romance's audience have taken great offence against the Daily Mail. Indeed, they're going to have a protest outside the Mail offices.

Hmmm. Hundreds of angry young people wearing black shirts marching up and down the streets of London. That was the sort of thing that Mail loved back in the 1930s, wasn't it?

So far, organisers have persuaded 300 people to take part - although, obviously, if it's sunny on the 31st May it's unlikely many of them will be venturing outdoors.

It's not entirely clear what the aim of the march will be - we're kind of hoping they'll seize the presses and start printing Emo-tinged editions of the Daily Mail ("House prices fall - it's soooo unfair").

Hazlitt and Eyre stepping down

Architects of GCap's recent past, Fru Hazlitt and Richard Eyre, are to step down as part of the preparations for merger with Global.

In a complex piece of horse-trading - designed to placate the Office of Fair Trading who want time to properly investigate the effects of the union - the two companies are going to continue as "separate entities", with different people in charge - until the OFT rolls over and gives its approval. Not to prejudge, of course. Even with all these required management heads (way to cut costs, guys), there's no room for Eyre or Hazlitt. They're left feeling a bit like XFM daytimes.

No Marty, no cry

Martin Scorsese has decided he doesn't want to be involved any longer with the Bob Marley biopic - down to "scheduling conflicts", apparently.

Not to worry, though: Jonathan Demme has got some spare time and is stepping in to the project instead. There are now a slew of producers who seem to move from one music biopic to the next. Doubtless if Demme had also been busy, Pennebaker would have been next on the speed-dial.

Jam Master Jay: Turning the pager

We're at a loss to understand exactly how it is that Jam Master Jay's two-way pager - which he lost a couple of days before he was shot - has only just emerged. Jay had left it behind at a Milwaukee club, and Eric Shake James had picked it up to give to him. But, of course, Jay was shot before he could be reunited with the device.

After three years, Shake has apparently realised that, you know, what with the death being a mystery, it could contain some crucial information. Having wasted three years, Shake knew exactly what to do - and put the pager into the hands of the proper authorities.

Or, at least, MTV. Tim Kash, to be precise, whose forensic skills have previously only been on display in the Top of the Pops Star Bar.

Shake's explanation for sitting on the pager (not literally, not with the vibrate function switched on) was vague:

"The pager's like a part of Jay," Shake says when asked why he's kept it all these years. "I keep it for memory's sake."

The main bulk of the messages, it turns out, are of the 'I just heard you've been shot' type that came through after news of Jay's death broke - and, somewhat oddly, people who had discovered he was dead asking Jay questions about the shooting, as if heaven got really good Cingular coverage. It's probably a lot less crucial to the case than MTV might be playing it.

And it's not entirely Shake's fault that he hasn't passed the pager over to cops - despite having hung out with Jay during his last days, he's never been spoken to by the investigation at all. The police, presumably, are ex-directory round his way.

Try, try again

We were quite fond of The Twang, but must admit that we'd totally forgotten they even existed. Still, apparently that's not going to stop them, and they're going to make another album.

Dustin binned

Well, that's probably going to make the more humourless Irish feel better: Dustin The Turkey has been booted from Eurovision at the semi-final stage and won't embarrass the nation on Saturday night.

Azerbaijan, though, did make it through - as did Norway, which probably just adds insult to some sort of perceived injury.

Britney's dad gives up the day job

Apparently seeing 'taking care of the stuff that Britney should be capable of doing for herself but probably isn't' as a long-term prospect, her dad Jamie has quit his day job. He's going to be paid ten grand a month for the role; this is somewhat better than a catering gig he had before. We're guessing those plans to open a chain of restaurants with K-Fed have been put on hold. At least until Brit can be trusted with an ATM card.

Gerrard hooks up with Schulze

Klaus Schulze has wanted to work with Lisa Gerrard since, like, forever, but it's not easy. Lisa G isn't quite so collaboration-hungry as, say, the Paul Wellers of this world:

"I have wanted to work with Lisa since the days of Dead Can Dance in the 80's, but I never had an opportunity for such a collaboration. You don't get her on the phone so easily. When Lisa called me we spoke for quite a long time and managed to agree on a deal. We both have very similar opinions about art. For example, she says, ‘music is something sacred’, I can understand that very well but try and explain that to a normal human being..."

Now, though, Klaus has got his wish: Farscape is released on the 4th July.

[You might like The Lisa Gerrard weekend videos]

Trapped in the dock: Kelly trial updates

There's obviously much movement on the R Kelly trial, now that it's finally underway, and the press are struggling to balance the seriousness of the charges with the obvious comedy value of a case that throws up a defence desperately trying to use Marlon Wayan films to make their case:

[Attorney Sam] Adam, in an attempt to suggest that Kelly's head could have been superimposed onto somebody else's body in the sex tape, asked [alleged victim's friend Simha] Jamison whether she had seen the Wayans brothers' movie "Little Man."

He said, "They put the head of Marlon Wayans on a midget and it looked real, didn't it?"

But, to widespead laughter, Jamison replied, "Not really!"

God knows what they'll try next: 'Have you seen Wishbone's story the Prince and the Pauper? Could this be an R Kelly lookalike who was in his clothes at the time, while Kelly himself was living the life of a pauper?'

Meanwhile, the defence has also had a go at suggesting that the prosecution attempted to throw off all potential black jurors - to go for a racially-weighted panel; this might have had some nobility to it if, erm, the defence team hadn't used all their objections to jurors to get rid of only white potentials.

The case continues.

More a where were they then than a where are they now

Because every band is special to somebody: For Those Who Tried To Rock, a blog dedicated to providing an online tribute to every American band, ever. Apart from those you've heard of.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gordon in the morning: Started with horses

A surprise snowfall in Yellowstone, and a rapid relocation gives us a chance to cast an eye at how Gordon's been doing, and in particular, his business for this morning.

He's leading with the surprising news that Jordan is going for Gold at the 2012 Olympics. Or, rather, Peter Andre has bought her a horse and so Smart has extrapolated wildly to try and turn this into a lead story, complete with a mocked-up photo of how she would look if her face was badly superimposed on that of someone riding a horse. He presumably would have just run some photos of her tits, but - being her 30th birthday - he's got that as another story.

All this, though, looks like broadsheet behaviour compared to the desperate scraping together of copy to support a photo of Kylie wearing spectacles:

Minogue dons Ky-focals

WHAT shortsighted fella could never make passes at girls who wear glasses — especially when it’s KYLIE MINOGUE who’s donned them!

The sound you can hear? It's the ghost of Dorothy Parker disinterring her body in order to grind it into a million pieces to try and stop the spinning. (Gordon means that Kylie has donned the glasses, by the way, not a girl wearing specs, nor a shortsighted man.)
So back to those glasses.

Maybe Kylie could wear them to reprise one of the hits that brought her frame and fortune — like Eye Should Be So Lucky...

Or the Locomot-eye-tion, eh, Gordon?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Way ahead

We've not seen it ourselves, but according to the the Daily Cross-Hatch (whose comic viewpoint is pretty damn sharp), Gerard Way makes a far better comic artist than musician. Let's hope he throws in My Chemical Romance and follows his "first love" all the way.

They're going to have sell a lot of doughnuts

Tucked away in Rolling Stone's piece on life beyond CD sales is the eye-catching and slightly dubious claims that They Might Be Giants are being paid a million dollars to write jingles (they say "spots", but let's be honest here: it's jingles) for Dunkin' Donuts. How many donuts extra would the company have to sell to justify that sort of payday?

Not to mention to offset the loss in sales from those of us who are TMBGphobic. I never saw a single episode of Malcolm In The Middle for that very reason.

Let's get lost: Chris Mills almost plays Manchester Psychogeography fest

Or the Second Accidental International Festival of Psychogeography, to give it the full name. Mills is playing a not-quite festival launch:

I'm delighted to present a really special gig as a pre-festival un psychogeographic but very splendid treat. NYCs finest Chris Mills plays the Britons Protection this Friday, 23rd May, 8pm. Support comes from the wonderful Liam Dullegan and Case Hardin... that's three top notch artists for just £5 AND there will of course be cake.

There aren't enough events which feature cake these day, although, frankly, you shouldn't need to be bribed with cake when then there's a Chris Mills gig on offer, either.

More on the festival itself at their website.

Beyonce dressed down for undressing kids

Beyonce's new clothing range for children - Dereon, apparently, although that sounds like a painkiller - has been getting some heat for making childrens look a little skanky - although, as ParentDish points out, this is more in the way it's being presented than because of the clothes themselves:

Check out this ad for Deréon Girls and you will notice sweet-faced little girls wearing high heeled pumps, feather boas and bright red lipstick. This ad campaign might be called "where the playground and prostitute meet." If you can manage to look past the inappropriate accessories and somewhat suggestive poses, the clothes themselves aren't that bad. Maybe a little on the tacky side, but not overtly sexual.

Of course, it's hard to dress children in anything these days without edging them towards fetishwear, with The Sun and other magazines keen to push the idea that school uniforms are sexy and all. But ParentDish have a point - the trouble is not that the clothes are sexual (they're just almost illegally ugly), it's that the fashion and advertising industries have apparently lost the ability to communicate to anyone without a dollop of push-up and pucker.

Beyonce, perhaps wisely, is keeping her head down on this one.

Napster tries strategy #479

Having tried its hand at being an all-you-can-eat, subscription service (with built-in vanishing of your collection when you stop forking out) and some sort of advertising-supported free service, Napster has now decided that selling mp3 files is where it's at. That's the new strategy in the increasingly desperate attempts to kill off iTunes. Or at least make people aware of the Napster service.

Selling individual tracks, eh? Who knew that selling songs might be a winning strategy.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Everything she does is written in her diary

We had assumed this was all some sort of post-modern joke at Geri Halliwell's expense, but, no, it does really seem that Clare Grogan is going to publish a series of children's books about a character called Tallulah Gosh:

“I wanted to write a story that would be good fun for young girls to read and which they would hopefully find inspiring too. And it was a sheer joy to write!

“There’s no escaping the fact that Tallulah and the Teenstars is semi-autobiographical insofar as it’s based very loosely on the early days of being in Altered Images. I regard Tallulah and the Teenstars as a book for girls like I was as a teenager – girls who are more into Siouxsie and the Banshees than homework. It’s something that I’ve thought about doing for some time.

“I think there’s an old-fashioned quality to the book, but within a hip setting. In some respects it’s an antidote to the mounting volume of teen fiction dealing with drugs, child abuse, violence and unwanted pregnancies. Not all childhoods are like that and, whilst hip and, hopefully inspiring, Tallulah has no truck with the over-sexualisation of young girls that’s taking place in the UK right now.

“Tallulah and the Teenstars is more lipstick and guitars than G-strings and alcopops.”

We're not sure that - unlike Madonna's books - there's going to be much of a market for a spin-off clothing line with this one.

No, it's genuine. You can pre-order on Amazon and everything.

Given that it's based on Clare's "rise to pop fame", book two in the series will doubtless be a painful read and book three will never see a release but be locked in a vault somewhere instead.

No word on what this lot think about it, mind:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This wedding sponsored by Axe deodorant

So, just a month after their betrothal, Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz have got married.

We thought it was only in badly-written soap operas that large weddings were arranged so quickly. Oh, hang on...

They're just reporting on NBC that the wedding theme was "Ash in Wonderland." We're not sure what Pete was in - high level talks with his PR team to work out how a teen-mope act can have a pop poppet wife and still pretend to be annoyed with life.

Rav chides Martin

Now, we're not over-fond of Chris Martin here, but we're tending to support him in the face of his ticking-off from Rav Singh.

Supposedly, Martin got angry when photographers kept asking him how it felt to be with Brad Pitt's ex and had a bit of a pop at them. Rav tuts:

Chris, you must stop snapping at the snappers.

Even when they're deliberately being rude in a bid to get a snap of him snapping, Rav? Isn't your wagging finger aimed in the wrong direction?

Still, it's news to us. Who knew Chris Martin was involved with Jennifer Aniston?

Taking the Cole out again

In what is meant to be some sort of a shock for Ashley, today's News of the World is revealing, exclusively, that, erm, Cheryl told a bloke she was very upset about Ashley's cheating.

The NOTW describes this as 'revenge', although only if you believe that having a conversation with a man is, of itself, a breach of the marriage vows on a par with sleeping around behind your wife's back. (Where 'behind your wife's back' actually means 'in full view of the Sun').


As if waking up after twenty four hours of transit and post-plane sleeping, is this what you really want to see?

The question "what are you on" is over-asked. But, this time, seriously...

Thanks - we think - to Michael M for the hint.